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Zachary Dempsey is a 19 year old Canadian entrepreneur utilizing the power of influencer marketing to drive hundreds of millions of impressions per month to various brands. In this interview, I picked his brain to understand how he does it.
City where you’re from: Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada
Hobbies: Snowboarding, reading, and videography
Favorite quote: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out” – John Wooden
Hey Zach, why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. I think a lot of people that end up becoming entrepreneurs share the same desire for being in charge of their own life, I’m no exception. Ever since I was young I would always find myself following my own path and doing what I wanted to do instead of what others told me. I was never the type of person to do something just because someone else told me to do it, so naturally I started working on my own projects outside of school. Once I saw the potential in building my own business I decided to become an entrepreneur full time.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
I think everyone is just the average of the 5 people they spend the most time with, so personally I think I was mostly influenced by my parents and a few of my closest like minded friends. Ever since I was young my parents always encouraged me to pursue things I was interested in. They never tried to make me sign up for sports or classes that they wanted me to take, instead they wanted me to make my own decisions based around things that I enjoyed. I think being exposed to that level of decision making at a young age really helped push me to where I am today. A moment that really stands out to me is a conversation I had with my parents in senior year of high school. We were talking about what I wanted to do after high school and whether or not I wanted to attend university. During that conversation I told them that I had decided I wanted to pursue my own business instead of going to university, from that moment on my entire focus was on my company.
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
Currently I’m working on an app that allows influencers on Twitter to track the monetization for their accounts. Owning a large network of influential Twitter accounts, I found myself at a loss for any analytics regarding the monetization of my accounts. After a few months of development we are now in beta testing!
How is your service different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
In the world of influencer marketing there are not a lot of services that offer any type of analytics, especially ones that would be available to the influencer. I’m trying create an app that allows the influencer to track how their monetizing their account and give them insight on the amount of impressions they should be receiving. I think my favourite moment so far has been launching the initial beta program, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far and it’s nice to see my ideas bringing value to people’s businesses.
What types of marketing channels do you take advantage of?
Instagram live is something that I’ve been playing around a lot with lately. Utilizing an influencer to get in front of their audience in real time and talk about a brand has been extremely well received. The audience is so much more engaged in a live stream than they would be if they just saw a post. Live video is so personal that the audience feels like they’re having a conversation with the person on screen, when the influencer achieves this level of personal connection with their audience then the followers are much more likely to to be interested in the product that they’re talking about.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
Every entrepreneur experiences failure during some part of their career, the way you deal with it really shows a lot about who you are as a person as well as an entrepreneur. It’s very important that you treat every setback as a learning experience, don’t get too caught up on the setback itself but instead look at what happened leading up to it that you might have been able to change to minimize the damage. You need to learn to be flexible when dealing with small setbacks or failure. Nothing last forever and things rarely go as planned so you need to make sure to have a solid plan B!
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about and enjoy. It’s very important that you like what you do, if you’re truly passionate about your work then it’s so much more likely you’ll succeed. Another thing that I’ve found extremely useful is delegating as much busy and/or unappealing work to someone else so that you can focus on more important things. If you’re not talented at something and you find it taking up a lot of your time, it might be a good idea to hire someone more qualified to do it.
Give us some tips about influencer marketing.
Content is very important when it comes to influencer marketing. I think there’s a common misconception with a lot of brands that think because their ad is going to be seen by millions of people that they can just throw together any sort of ad and utilize influencer marketing, this is simply not true. In order to get the most out of your advertising budget it is absolutely necessary that you’re promoting a good piece of engaging content. Your goal is to get people talking about your brand, so it’s very important that your target demographic can relate and will want to share the sort of content you put out.
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bit of knowledge that you’d like to share?
I think the single best piece of knowledge I’ve acquired whilst developing my business is the way I manage the people working for me. I think it’s extremely important to build a good relationship with everyone that works for you, as well as offer a sense of community. The best way to achieve this is by giving everyone as much freedom as you can. For me, this means allowing my staff to choose their own hours and have as much vacation time as they feel they need. If your staff is happy to go to work everyday then they’re bound to work harder and help you build a better product.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
Organization skills are a huge asset to any entrepreneur. Having my whole day/week/month planned out is super useful for me because it allows me to focus on one thing at a time without having to worry about forgetting something. Another thing I’ve found helpful is only working when I’m fully rested and am ready to work. There’s no sense working on something when you’re tired and not giving it your all. If you’re lucky enough to be able to make your own schedule, use that to your advantage.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
The most important thing an entrepreneur should focus on is their relationships with friends and family as well as their personal well being. I see a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs claiming to work consecutive 15 hour days for weeks on end, and I really don’t think this is a healthy way to live. Don’t let your health and personal life fail just to get ahead in business. After that, focus on bringing value. Find a problem that needs fixing or a services that is desperately needed and offer a solution. Work on having a good product and the money will come later.
Walk us step-by-step through the process that you had to go through to get from the early stages to where you are today.
While I was getting my business up off the ground, the majority of my time was spent networking with people and building a list of connections. I would say it took me just under a year of networking to get my first reliable recurring client. After I got my first client it became a lot easier for me to get more. After about a year of running the business entirely myself I started hiring people part time to take some of the work off my shoulders. Today, about a year after hiring the first person, I’ve built a team of over a dozen people helping me with software development, website development and social media management. Building a good team around me has been extremely useful for my business, it allows me to delegate the less important tasks so I can focus on more important things like decision making and communicating with my clients.
What are some of your favorite books?
“The 80/20 principle” by Richard Koch is an amazing book that I would recommend to any entrepreneur. The underlying message of the book says that you can get 80% of the results with 20% of the time/effort. I think this is a great book for anyone struggling with time management, it really showed me the power of using my time efficiently and gave some insight on the power of delegating tasks that you don’t like or aren’t good at. “The Alchemist” By Paulo Coelho is another wonderful book. I would recommend this to the younger entrepreneurs that haven’t completely found their way yet. It follows the story of a boy who defies the normalities of his society and paves his own path. This book really helped me see the possibilities in doing my own thing, it made me feel a lot more comfortable taking my own path.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
In the next few years I’m planning on heavily focusing on Instagram, with the goal of building out a similar SAS as I have for Twitter. There’s no denying that Instagram is here to stay, and with the recent addition of the Stories feature as well as the moves they’re making towards live video I think the value of influencers on the platform can only go up.